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Maintaining huge forces in the field – up to 2 million men were serving on the Western Front – required vast amounts of supplies. Every bullet, blanket, bandage, artillery battery or tin of bully beef had to be manufactured and transported where and when it was required.

By 1918 each Division of about 12,000 men needed about 1,000 tons of supplies every day – equivalent to two supply trains each of 50 wagons. When an offensive was being planned, even larger quantities of material had to be concentrated in preparation for the operations that might last for months.